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PBM Identity Crisis
Okay, so I've been commenting here about Cohorts and my progress in developing the game for a while now.

Last night, I met with a potential new developer and while I was describing the game's mechanics, he started posing a number of questions.  Most of them, I had easy answers to.  Some of them caused me to think about how Cohorts and PBM games in general operate.

The general premise of PBM is that you plan your turn, submit it for processing, and then you get back your results.  There is no discovery while planning your turn.  For me, this is both the best and worst part of a PBM.

I love the idea that I am going to move my characters into position to attack some monster or monsters or players (who might also be monsters!).  I have everyone set up and I issue the attack order.  Then, I move on to some other planning aspect of the game, having no idea what the outcome of that attack is until I submit my turn for processing.  Then, I impatiently wait for the turn results to arrive to find out if I lost or if I won and what kewl loot I got for my efforts.  This hopeful anticipation is FUN!

The not so fun part is when I want to do something and then do something else.  Without a sense of what might happen first, it makes planning part 2 very difficult.  Here is what I mean: On Turn 12, I have sent my characters to go attack a monster.  The monster won the battle, but just barely.  On Turn 13, I am going to finish off the monster and then move off to find some other target to hit.  Trouble is, I have no idea what the outcome of the fight will be while I am planning my next move.  It's not necessarily a concern of "Will I win", but more of a concern of "What will I get?".  Most importantly with that is, will I get goodies that will end up overburdening my party of characters, causing their movement to fail, causing all sorts of other cascading failures in my turn? 

In Cohorts, you are able to get immediate "discovery" results as your turn runs, in real time.  This dramatically improves the game's playability (in my opinion). The caveat to that was, your plans are immutable.  You can't roll them back and try something else to hope for a different/better outcome.

I really liked that idea up until the question was asked "What if somebody else kills the monster before you?  Or what if you are attacked by another player and you want to send your characters to attack them back?  Are you not allowed to change your orders then?"  

Ugh.  My fast answer was "no" but then I saw how that was a very poor answer.  It basically created a scenario where you know you have to submit a turn that is doomed to fail.  Not knowing your turn will fail means you have hope.  That hope makes waiting for your turn exciting.  Submitting a turn that you know will fails is ... less fun.

Then we started bouncing around the idea of "real time" results.  This would change the game from PBM to a sort of Turn Based RTS.   Truth is, I think it would work spectacularly - but it's not the game I was building.  Technically, it's a minor change but the game-concept is completely different.

So, that Turn Based RTS game is going to happen, but first I need to solve my PBM design dilemma.  It comes down to these two questions:

Should you be allowed to receive "discovery information" while planning your turn?  If you can, should you be allowed to change your orders before submitting your turn (and possibly end up gaming the game)?

I would love to hear your opinions!
You might be able to handle it somewhat with some "Standing Orders" that allow the player to pre-program some reactions to things that happen in the game. I'm slowly adding some of those into the combat system with my game. So you can decide that your ship will "Flee" after X number of turns, or that you will concentrate fire on a certain section of an enemy ship, and you set what distance you'd prefer to remain from your target ship during combat and whatnot.

So in your example, you might allow a player to set a toggle called "Retaliation" or "Selfish Hunter" that would determine if they attempt to attack someone that attacks them or takes a kill away from them respectively.

Unless I'm missing something, perhaps this response belongs in a different thread?
(09-21-2017, 10:16 AM)Angerak Wrote: Unless I'm missing something, perhaps this response belongs in a different thread?

I specifically referenced statements made in your post, but whatever.
Perhaps I'm being thick, but I'm not seeing how you were referencing statements in my post.

My post comes down to this final question:
Should you be allowed to receive "discovery information" while planning your turn?  If you can, should you be allowed to change your orders before submitting your turn (and possibly end up gaming the game)?

I didn't follow how standing orders and/or "retaliation/selfish hunter" applied to that.  

I'm not trying to be difficult, I just didn't understand how your post related to my question, so I thought perhaps the response somehow ended up in the wrong thread.
FYI - we designed a game back in the 80's (which we might still go back to) where the turn cycle was what we tentatively called "slow real-time".  Each action ran one at a time (slowly) and you could view results when needed and change any FUTURE orders if you needed to.  I still like that design.

Also, we're currently working on the re-coding of a different game where we're adding in the concept of "triggers", or what to do when something unplanned (if not unexpected) comes up during the course of a turn cycle.  This makes "changing your mind" much less needed as it's built into the process in a limited way.
The slow play idea is interesting. I'm not fully sure how that works out from the player's perspective.

From a 'changing your mind' perspective, what I'm referring to is if you move your characters, army or whatever and discover something (before officially submitting your turn). So, you rewind your orders and do something different. The net effect is that you are getting multiple turns in one turn.

We've been pressing the idea of turn-based RTS a bit further. It feels like it's turning the game into something other than play by mail, but it still seems to fit with my primary goal of making a game that feels like of a bunch of friends sitting around a game-board, except that everybody is moving pieces and casting spells and whatnot, all at the same time.

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